Instagram’s big anti-bullying announcement targets offensive captions

Instagram is taking another step towards tackling cyber-bullies.

This week Instagram started testing a new feature that notifies users if their captions could be considered offensive.

The ‘feed caption warning is designed to give people a chance to stop and consider how their message will affect another person’s feelings.

A lot of the time, the ‘instant’ aspect of Instagram means that people type before they think – the online equivalent of putting your foot in it.

By creating a pause, social media is giving users a second chance to effectively think before they speak.

This new function is part of the social media site’s commitment to stopping the scourge of cyber trolling.

Why is this important?

According to a 2018 survey by ReachOut Australia, a mental health organisation for young people, cyberbullying is on the rise.

It found that more than one-in-three young people are being bullied online.

The incidence of cyberbullying among 14-16-year-olds has doubled in only a year and 43% of 17-19 year olds have been bullied online.

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How does it work?

If someone writes a caption, Instagram’s artificial intelligence program can mark it as being potentially offensive and the user will get a prompt letting them know their phrasing is similar to other captions reported for bullying.

They’ll then have the opportunity to edit the caption before it goes live.

As well as removing potentially harmful messages from the site, Instagram hopes it will educate people on what is and isn’t socially acceptable language.

Australia is one of the countries where this new feature is being tested before it rolls out globally.